Friday, June 25, 2010

Grandparents Matter

This not a current picture.  Just one I love.  And look at that sweet baby!  He's getting ready to turn 3!

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my parents moving near us. Really. Near.

Ben and I moved to this area 8 years ago.  At the time, we had been married for 5 years.  The first 3 living in a tenant house that belonged to his parents, and was just up the road from their farm out in the country in the central part of the state.  The second 2 years we lived in SC while he finished up his college career after a 4 year furlough.

It was while we were there that God led us to step out on faith and move to this area.  It wasn't for a job...we came up with none.  It wasn't for a home...we came up to rent an apartment that we put a deposit on sight unseen.  Big mistake.  But that is a whole 'nother story.  Believe me!  It wasn't to be near one we loved or even knew was here.   Our families were both 3 1/2 hours away.

We were blessed to be invited to help our friends as they moved here to start a church.  Thankfully, they arrived a little less than 3 months after we did.  It was pretty lonely here those first few months.  They were our family to us during that time.  Especially once we had our first son, during that second year here.  2 1/2 years later we welcomed twin boys.  12 months after that we welcomed our youngest son, giving us 4 boys... ages 3 1/2 and under. and 2 weeks before that our friends moved away.

People often would ask me then how we did it with 4 little boys so close in age with no family around to help.  (My sister did move here briefly during the time our youngest was born.  But we scared her back to the city. haha.)
Now I look back and wonder the same thing.
But what I do know is God got us through.  But it was hard.  Really hard at times.

But last June 26th, after 5 1/2 years of parenting our boys without extended family nearby, God allowed us the privilege of having Nana and Papa come to live right next door to us.  My boys get to have their grandparents be a part of their everyday life.  I love that.  I always wished I had seen my own grandparents more, and had a closer relationship with them.

And, I must say, it is a huge blessing to have their help.  Thinking about how much I've depended on my mom this last year, it is hard to think about how I did it with out her.  Those lonely years just go to show you that God will never give you more than you can handle.  Because He can handle anything.

old pic of Dad and Mom with the boys, back when they used to have to take a vacation to see them

So, Mom and Dad, happy 1st anniversary of living next door to us.  We hope we haven't driven you completely crazy!  And thanks for all you do!  And thanks for all your loving on and caring for the boys!  They are blessed to have you in their lives every day. Grandparents Matter!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making Every Dollar Matter

Today was grocery shopping day in our household.
As usual, I went determined to get some good deals and save some money.

I like love the deals at CVS.
Pantene Shampoo $4.99 on sale for $3.49 - $1.50 coupon = $1.99
Pantene Shampoo $4.99 on sale for $3.48 - $1.00 coupon = $2.48
Nivea Body wash $4.99 on clearance for $2.49 - $3.00 coupon = FREE!
Nivea Body wash $4.99 on clearance for $2.49 - $3.00 coupon = FREE!
And I earned $2 in ExtraCare Bucks
Total Transaction was only $4.47!

Then I bought a 12 pack of Thomas English muffins $4.99 on sale for $1.99
Dinner napkins for $1.99
I used my $2 EC Bucks so my total was only $1.98!

Total regular price for all of these items was $26.94.  I paid $6.45!  I call that a deal!

Target had some good deals as usual!
I found 3 Thomas Rev N Go trains normally $3.99 each for $.98 each.  I put them away for O-Man's birthday.  We're taking him to A Day Out With Thomas for his birthday, so these will go along with his special day perfectly. and inexpensively.

Tag Jr. Books are usually $10.99 on sale for $9.89.  I found a $3 coupon online, so I only paid $6.89!  I put that away for O-Man's birthday, too, to go along with the Tag Jr. Reader and Tag Jr. book I bought a while back and set aside for his birthday.

I needed table cloths for a church gathering at our house this weekend.  I found some regularly priced for $2 each in the clearance for $.50 each!  They were graduation stock, so they are silver, but they will do just fine.  At that price, I picked up all 5 that they had left, only paying a total of $2.50!

Archer Farms has individual pound cakes they sell in a pack of 2.  These originally are $3.84 per pack.  Rather pricey dessert for 2 people, so I would never have purchased them.  However, today they had 3 boxes left on clearance for $.94 each!  I grabbed them all....just perfect for our family of 6.  At a total price of $2.82 (and a savings of $8.70!), I can serve a nice dessert just by adding some fruit and whipped topping.

Some other deals I found at Price Chopper were split chicken breasts, buy one package get one free, saving $5.44.
Oscar Mayer hot dogs buy one get one free, and I had a coupon for $1 off 2, so I got 4 packages and saved $10.38!
Grapes for only 98 cents a pound, giving me a total savings of $4.28.
Macintosh apples only 99 cents a pound.
Blueberries buy one pint get one free.  Yum!  We love blueberries! And I love saving $2.99!
Dole salad buy one get one free, a savings of $3.49.
I saved 44% off my bill at that store.

At one time, I gave up on shopping at several different stores, and gave up on couponing because I wondered if it were all worth my time and work.  But I didn't quit for long.  I go to several stores and clip coupons and print coupons online and scour sales fliers.  (I just wish we had stores here that would double coupons.)  But I would say the deals I found and the money I saved today were worth the time I spent. All part of the attempt to make every dollar matter.

What do you do to make each dollar matter?
How do you balance pursuing frugality and valuing your time?
Do share.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making Vacation Moments Matter

Last week we took a much needed break and got away for the week.  As a one income family in a 2 income world we know we can't do the Disney vacations and the destination vacations.  But that doesn't mean we can't have a nice vacation.  Turns out our choice is actually much more relaxing anyway!  (The very thought of traveling states away with 4 little boys and keeping track of them in a crowded tourist spot makes that kind of vacation much less desirable!)  We packed up the minivan and made the 3 1/2 hour trek to visit my in-laws on their farm.  The boys could hardly stand the wait.  They LOVE going to Grampa and Gramma's!  In fact, after 10 minutes, they were asking, "Are we almost there yet?"

Due to some plumbing problems at my in-laws farmhouse, we didn't stay in our usual accomodations this visit. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live across the road and they took us in for the week. We camped out in their basement and had a relaxing week hanging out with the family. And my husband had time to fix the plumbing issues, making his mom pretty happy.

We didn't do anything extravagant, but our boys made memories.

We took them to a balloon festival and watched hot air balloons fill up with air and lift off right in front of us. The boys even got to touch one and look inside it as it was filling up. Pretty cool!

That's my little guy in the hat watching the balloons launch with his cousins.

The boys got to play in their cousins' new pool and slip-n-slide.

The boys roasted marshmallows and made smores for the first time ever.

The boys got to spend lots of time with their cousins.  Big E got to do sleep overs and camp out in the living room.  They all played together really well.  Pretty good, seeing as 4 of the boys are all within 16 months of each other in age.  My brother in law said that he looked across the road from his work on the farm and it looked like we were running a day care!  My sister in law and I got really good last week at counting to 6.  And best of all, we didn't make one trip to the ER!

My SIL and I got to go to a yard sale and I found a perfect pair of boots for E to wear to the barn.  He was so happy.  These "suburban" boys don't have barn clothes.  The boys all got to go down to the barn and see the cows.  O-Man couldn't stop talking about it and how he was going to help his uncle with the cows.  That was until he got within several feet of a calf.  And freaked out.  And he wouldn't go near the horse, though he made me climb under the barb wire fence and into the pasture with flip flops on.  D had no fear of the cows.  He is an animal lover.  C was okay until he was informed that the stuff he just stepped in with flip flops on was cow poopie.

We took the boys to church early Wednesday night and let them run around in the gymnasium since it rained all day.  They said "but we're not supposed to run in church."  All they know is a church that meets in a funeral home.  There's actually a place in some churches where you are allowed to run?  During prayer meeting, the Pastor asked for favorites during the song time.  Our church meets in homes for prayer meeting, and we aren't able to have a Sunday evening service, so they've never seen a "favorites" song time before.  Confused about what the Pastor was asking, D raised his hand, and when the Pastor asked him for his favorite, he replied, "Snow!"  Then during the Bible study time, O-Man was looking through his diaper bag.  I had forgot that there was a cup of water in there and it had tipped and leaked out onto the bottom of the bag, where I had stashed a spare pair of underpants for his brother.  I looked over and O-Man had this sopping wet pair of underpants raised above his head.  Oh boy!

We took the boys to the city and had a fun day at the mall, watching Toy Story 3 (we're big fans in this house of all things Buzz and Woody), visiting the Disney Store, eating a picnic lunch on the tailgate of my SIL's SUV in the parking lot, and riding the carousel.

Then we got to go to my sister's house and see my 5 neices and nephews.  The next day was my nephew's 3rd birthday so we took him his gifts and spent a few hours with them.  The boys had fun spending time with their cousins and even got to learn how to play on a Wii.

Here's 3 of them.  Aren't they gorgeous?  The babies are 2 and 3 now, only 11 months apart so my sister feels like she has twins, too.  Funny now that I have twins that are nearly 4 and my youngest is nearly 3, I feel like I have triplets!

On the way back to the country, we took the boys out to eat at McDonalds and splurged on happy meals.  I know, I'm such a scrooge, but I usually just get them dollar menu items.  While there, a lady asked me if we had triplets.  :-)  She was curious because she is pregnant with triplets.  WOW!

On Saturday, my other brother-in-law and sister-in-law arrived from SC, so we had the whole family together for about 24 hours.  Sunday, of course, was Father's Day and we got to attend our old church where my in-laws still go, and see old friends.  We had a cook out and the boys took one last dip in the pool.  Grampa shocked us all and jumped in with them, and even had a water gun fight with C.  It was a fun day, and the boys were sad to jump in the van and head home.

These are some of my favorite people.
What a blessing it is to have extended family like ours!

My Dad-in-law with his 3 sons on Father's Day.
My favorite is the one in the blue polo shirt.  :-)

And my wonderful man and my sweet boys on Father's Day.
I love raising boys with that man.

So, we didn't spend a lot of money or do anything extra exciting, but memories were made and moments were enjoyed, and all in all I'd say it was a vacation that mattered.

After all, it's family that matters.  Don't be disappointed if "all you can afford" is a trip to Grandma's house this year.  It may be the best kind of vacation ever!  My kids didn't complain that it wasn't the vacation of their dreams....they only complained that they had to go home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Those Hard to Buy for Guys

Do you have one of those hard to buy for guys in your family?  I have 3 of them!  My Dad, My Dad-in-law and My Man.  So, Father's Day is coming and I was stumped as to what to do for them.  And then I remembered the old saying, The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

So, I found buckets (the kind you might use to wash your car) at the dollar store to put their gifts in.  These guys have very similar likes in food, so it made my shopping easy!

While at the grocery store I picked up for each of them:
6 pack of Snickers bars
2 liter of soda
bag of their favorite chips/munchies
package of Oreos
box of Swedish Fish

Yes, the men in my life all have a sweet tooth. 

This is one gift I know they will definitely use!  And I didn't spend money I don't have.  So, the moral of this story.  Think outside the box. literally.  Sometimes the best gift isn't one from a nice department store in a box with fancy paper.  (Most men are not impressed by fancy paper anyway).  Sometimes, just remembering what someone's favorites are and getting them for them is even better.  It says you know them and you love them.  It doesn't say I'm buying this tie for you because I think your other ones are ugly.  Or I'm giving you this tool because I think you need to learn how to use it.  Or worse, because I have no clue what to buy for you.
Now if the man in your life wants a new tie, go for it.
If the man in your life wants a new tool, go for it.
But maybe the man in your life just wants some yummy in his tummy, then go for it.

Most importantly, no matter what gift you give, or if you give gifts at all, make every moment matter with your Dad this Father's Day.  Make sure he knows how much you love and appreciate him, while these moments are still yours for the making.

I was going to put a picture of the wonderful men in my life on this blog, but for some reason that feature isn't working. :-(

You now can "like" One Mom's Minutes on Facebook!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Catch the Reminders

I had to take Little D to the neurologist today.  He has been having seizures, and we have been searching for the answer as to "why?" and "what kind?".  So far, neither of those answers have been found.  As I looked around the waiting room, waiting along with me and my mom, and my 4 healthy boys, I saw around me some reminders of how fragile life is and how thankful I can be for healthy children.  Even though our little guy has been having seizures, he does not remember them, and they haven't really affected his life.  He's a normal active boy with great physical and cognitive development.  I thought about how many parents wish for that blessing for their children.   And though I wish for my son that he did not have this disorder, I also realize it could be worse. much worse.

How can you make every moment matter today?  Look at your children, if they are healthy and running around, and maybe even driving you a little bit nuts.  Think for a moment about how different it could be.  When they run circles around you....remember, it could be worse.  they could not run at all.  When they talk non-stop....remember, it could be worse.  they could not communicate at all.  When they cause you to have to be selfless, when they demand your time and attention....remember.  they could not be yours at all.  Realize how thankful you should be for their health...for their very lives.  Then determine to appreciate and enjoy your children just as they are... and then go do it!

"For you formed [his] inward parts; you knitted [him] together in [my] womb.  I praise you, for [my son is] fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14

"You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told." Psalm 40:5

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Every Dollar Matters

Now, we all know how important it is to make every dollar count. I am in that pursuit every day as a stay at home, home-educating, home-owning mom with 4 active little boys. We've all become more aware of the need to be more frugal and make the most of our money. I hope to share with you my frugal finds, delicious deals, and money saving tips. I love this delicious deal I found at recently.

The deal was on the suit, not the cute kid. :-)

The suit was originally $50. I got it for $17.48! It fits him so good, and the shipping was very quick. I was so pleased with the suit (better quality than I expected) and the deal!   With tax and shipping I paid $23.13!  And best of all, my little man looked so sharp in this pin stripe suit at his Kindergarten graduation.

So, how do we make every moment and every dollar matter?  Next time you are in need of something, instead of going out and buying it, do a little research on line and in stores and find a deal.  I saved my family  $33.50 by buying this suit on clearance.  This was not the only place I looked.  I allowed myself time to shop around and only bought what was in my means to purchase.  It's worth the little bit of time I spent surfing the web and checking out the kids' departments in our local department stores.  Next time, I might hit the internet first for a purchase like this, because I could not find any deal even close to this in any store.  How have you made every dollar matter recently?  I'd love to hear how....please post a comment!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Recently, I was talking to my neighbors on a hot humid day. In the process of complimenting my neighbor on her lovely hair, I complained about my own. Now, I have legitimate reason to complain. My hair has been torturing me all my life. In fact, I remember as a kid my mom took me to the beautician and told her she had no idea what to do with my hair and that we needed help! Once upon a time, my hair was actually cute. Somewhere along the way about the age of 5, it got crazy. My mom would comb my hair and turn around and it looked like I just got out of bed. It is seriously hair with a mind of its own. It likes to be curly and wavy, thick, frizzy and unmanageable. When there's any humidity it gets frizzy and poofy and there's no fixin' it. I've always wanted silky straight hair. And I'll admit I get awfully envious of those with wash and go hair.
Well, my 6 year old boy was listening to me talk to my neighbors. He came over and stood right in front of me looking at me very seriously, gave me a hug, and said, "But I like you just the way you are." What a sweetheart. He loves his momma, faults and all, and he didn't like hearing me compare myself with someone else's mom. And then I thought, how bad of me. To complain about the way God made me in front of my child, while all the time telling him to be happy with the way God made him. To compare myself outloud with someone else, while teaching him that we are all special unique creations made in the image of God. A bit of hypocrisy I'm sure, and a lot of bad example. Made me think that I should be a whole lot more careful about the things I say. I'm confident I have alot of work to do in this area. How about you? There are little ears listening, and they will model what they hear.
So, how can we make every moment matter? Oh be careful little mouth what you say!